lose / loose

Lose is a verb; it is the opposite of “win” and also the opposite of “find.” The baseball team is losing 5-2. I lost my favorite hat. I can’t find it anywhere! Loose is an adjective, it is the opposite of “tight.” These pants are too loose – I’ll need to wear a belt. My…

chance / possibility / opportunity

With the verb have, always use opportunity. The word possibility is more often used with “there is”: There’s a possibility I might move to England next year. I have the opportunity to work in my company’s London office. Also, possibility is neutral – it means maybe the event will happen, and maybe it will not…

as far as / as long as / as soon as

Use as long as for: Time – when talking about a long period: – “I’ll stay with you as long as you want.” A condition that is a requirement: – “You can go to the party as long as you’re back by 11 PM.” Use as soon as for: Time – when one thing happens…

extend / expand

Both of these words mean to get bigger, or to make something bigger. Extend has more the sense of making something longer in one direction, whereas expand gets bigger in all directions: You extend a TV antenna. A balloon expands when you blow it up. You extend your arm. A pregnant woman’s belly expands. We…

all of / each of

We use each to talk about objects individually, and all to talk about objects as a group: The teacher gave a different task to each student. (“each” emphasizes the individuality of the members of the group) The teacher gave tests to all the students. (“all” emphasizes the students as a group) In a similar way,…

fee / fare / tax

These words describe an amount of money that needs to be paid – but they’re used in different situations. Fare is used only for transportation: The bus fare is the cost of the bus ticket The train fare is the cost of the train ticket The taxi fare is the cost of taking a taxi…

last / past

In some situations, you can use last and past interchangeably with no difference in meaning: The economy has improved in the past month. The economy has improved in the last month. When used with time, the word past always requires the or this – but the word last does not. Last weekend I went to…

e.g. / i.e.

Both of these abbreviations come from Latin phrases: e.g. = exempli gratia (for example) – used to introduce examples i.e. = id est (that is) – used to say something in other words, in order to make things clearer or provide more information Here are some examples of how to use e.g.: He hates studying…

arrive / come / get / reach

Come is a general word used for entering a current place. It can be used for coming from short distances or long distances. My sister lives in London, but next week she’s coming to visit me in Atlanta. Our neighbors are coming over for dinner tonight. Come here – I want to show you something….

capital / capitol

The word capital, in politics/geography, refers to the town or city that is the official center of a country’s government: Washington D.C. is the capital of the U.S. The word capitol is very specific – it refers to a building or complex of buildings where the government meets to make laws. t The capitol building…

guarantee / warranty

The word guarantee just refers to a promise that certain conditions will be fulfilled. We can use it with products, or with things that are not products: All our products come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. I guarantee you will enjoy the experience. We guarantee the accuracy of the information in our reports. A warranty…

peak / pique

These two words are pronounced the same. To pique is a verb and it means to provoke or arouse. There is an expression, “It piqued my interest.” -this means that something attracted your interest or attention. However, some people write it incorrectly as “It peaked my interest.” A peak is a noun, it means the…

award / reward / prize

A reward is something nice given to a person who has done well. For example: If an employee has worked hard, the boss might give her an extra vacation day as a reward. If a child cleans their room, the parent might buy them a special toy as a reward. If you lose your cell…

farther / further

The word farther is used for distances: I ran 3 miles, but my sister ran 5 miles. She ran 2 miles farther than me. Philadelphia is just a two-hour drive away, but Washington is farther – it takes about 5 hours to get there. You can remember it because farther has the word “far” in…

safety / security

Although the dictionary definitions of these words are the same, they are often used slightly differently. The word safety usually means protection from injury, accidents, and dangerous situations or substances. Seatbelts and airbags are safety measures to protect you in a car crash. Following regulations properly helps keep factory workers safe from accidents. If a…

alone / lonely / only

Alone means “by yourself” – there is nobody else with you: I like to take long walks alone so that I have time to think. He got up and left the restaurant, leaving me alone at the table. Lonely means “feeling sad and isolated” – it is a negative emotion. I was lonely on my…

confident / confidant / confidence

The adjective confident describes when you feel certain – especially of a good outcome, like success. It can also describe a person who feels good about himself/herself. I’m confident that all the problems will be resolved soon. The company is confident of a successful winter season. I’m attracted to women who are strong and confident….

wake / awake / sleep / asleep

Sleep and wake are verbs (although we usually use “wake up” for when you stop sleeping, and “go to sleep” for the moment when you begin sleeping): My kids go to sleep at 10 PM. I slept during the 6-hour flight. I wake up at 7 AM and I have to be at work by…

hopefully / thankfully

You can say hopefully about something you want to happen (but you do not know if it will happen or not). Say thankfully about an established fact. Both “hopefully” and “thankfully” can be used in the past, present, or future – but thankfully is about confirmed facts and hopefully is about unconfirmed facts: Future: Hopefully,…

gut / guts

The word gut refers to a part of the body, but it has some metaphorical meanings, too. Your “gut” is your stomach. Some men have a “beer gut” (a big stomach from drinking too much beer!) and some people talk about wanting to do exercise to “lose their gut” (make their stomach smaller). We also…

suppose / supposed to

The word suppose means something like think, believe, imagine, or expect: He’s not answering his cell phone. I suppose he’s already gone to bed; after all, it’s midnight. I suppose her interview went well – she said she was happy with it. The expression supposed to refers to a rule. It means something should be…

inhabit / live / reside

Live is the most common word: My family lives in a big house. They live on the East Coast. I’ve lived in Canada my whole life. We’ve been living here for five years. Reside is a more formal word for live. It usually implies that you live in a place permanently or for a long…

would rather

Would rather means ‘would prefer to’. It is followed by the infinitive without to. We often use the contraction’d rather: this means ‘would rather’, not ‘had rather’. [ would rather + infinitive without to] Would you rather stay here or go home? ‘How about a drink?’ I’d rather have something to eat.’ We can use…

ignore / neglect

If you ignore someone/something, it means you don’t pay attention to it: – The president ignored the criticism and continued with his plan. – My best friend has been ignoring me ever since we had a fight – she hasn’t been answering my calls. – Ralph drives way too fast; he totally ignores the speed…

come back / go back / get back

Typically you say “go back” when talking about a place that is NOT your current location, and you say “come back” when you ARE located at the place/destination. An example will make it clearer: I am from the United States, and I am currently living in Brazil. If I plan to move back to the…

forest / jungle / wood / woods

All of these words refer to an area with lots of trees and other vegetation close together. The word jungle refers to a tropical area (it can also be called a rain forest). The Amazon in Brazil is an example of a jungle. In non-tropical areas, land filled with trees can be called the forest…

distinct / distinctive

The word distinct means: 1) that something is clearly and noticeably different or separate from other things Three distinct languages are spoken in this region. Please make sure to keep your opinions distinct from the facts when writing the article. We’re dealing with two distinct problems here. 2) that something is strong and obvious: There…

which / that

To understand when to use which and that, we first need to understand the idea of defining and non-defining relative clauses. Non-defining relative clauses add EXTRA information to the sentence. Defining relative clauses add ESSENTIAL information to the sentence. Here’s an example. Let’s imagine that it’s Friday, and I say: The bananas that I bought…

aim / goal / objective

Many people use these words interchangeably; there is really very little difference between them. In everyday spoken English, the most common word is goal. Aim and objective are usually used in more formal writing. ne small difference is that an objective is more specific than a goal, for example: Our goal is to improve health…

baggage / luggage

These words are the same. Both of them refer to the collection of suitcases/bags you take with you while traveling. Both of them are uncountable nouns, so don’t use “a” or make them plural: I have three luggages. I have three pieces of luggage. I accidentally left a baggage at the hotel. I accidentally left…